I approached the Utah/Colorado border. For hours my drive was dominated by the wide, low, and monotone horizon that inspired at least a few wagon loads of disenchanted and wayward Mormons to give up the 3.2% beer and journey even further west. At last, Vanna and I started climbing. The air cooled as it thinned, greens, grays, and jagged peaks appeared like a mirage. I turned off the A/C and opened the windows. The air was fresh and clean. Closer still, until I could pick out craggy ridge lines and peaks that stood tall and indifferent to my intentions. I dropped into Durango and the welcoming home of one Erik Skaggs, one Aaron Keller, and one toothless cat named Bugs. What I expected to be a few days running with Erik exploring the Durango area turned into an action packed week and a half. Big thanks to Mr. Skaggs for being such an amazing host, and to all his Durango chosen family of friends who shared their appreciation, love, and respect for the area.

Most Oregon trail runs are lucky to feature one prominent or proud summit. Colorado, on the other hand, provides seemingly endless opportunities for summit bagging and ridge link-ups. I joked that I’d need to start a serious meth habit if I was to complete half the runs that were on my list. Fortunately I started in Durango, close to the desert, so the rock was cheap. I stocked up for the rest of my spontaneous, serpentine path, running my way south to north through the mountains of Colorado.

An itemized grocery list of outings follows with more to come as I am back-logged on this blogging action, click on any colored words for pictures and such.  Disclaimer, none of these pictures are my own, they are either pirated from the internet or from friends who I was with.  My desire to run with a camera is minimal to none, and I figure there are many others who have taken better pics of these spots than me:

– My first Colorado run and a chance to see what it would feel like to run breathing through a straw with my nostrils duct taped shut. We started the run at Coal Bank Pass (10,600 ft.), climbed through tree line and wildflowers to the exciting knife edge ridge of Engineer Mountain (12,968 ft.). We managed to squeak the run in between afternoon thunderstorms. My first real views of the majestic San Juan’s made my skin tingle, the same way it tingled when I saw my first Playboy centerfold, so many curves and contours to explore. The views and altitude were inspiring and humbling.

Strava file here

A couple pics of Engineer:

Engineer Mountain as seen approaching from the south on the Million Dollar Highway

Engineer Mountain as seen approaching from the south on the Million Dollar Highway

The ridgeline to the summit, variations for exciting exposure exist.

The ridgeline to the summit, variations for exciting exposure exist.

– Day two, we got right down to business. Bigger missions in the mid-summer here require an early alarm to fit the summits in before the electric light show takes over in the afternoon. We were on the trail at Molas Lake at 7:15 a.m. for the demanding approach to Vestal Peak. The running was good, technical, and beautiful. If you want to see the specifics check the link to my Strava file here by clicking on these blue words. (The best way to view the Strava files when you click on them is to go to the map on the page and in the upper right corner change it from “Terrain Map” to “Satellite Map”, then use the zoom bar on the left to see more up close. You’ll also see a profile of the elevation route below the map as well as the mileage etc. for the run.)

The centerpiece of the day was the ascent of Vestal Peak via Wham Ridge. A stunning, beautiful, exponential curved ridge that looked to be created more by a mathematician than by nature. Part way up the climb we caught up with some of Erik’s good friends, Joy, Nick, The Braz, and Sean. The technical climb was fun, provided great views and a couple ass-puckering moves on exposed slabs. I love these outings mixing running with some technical scrambling.

We had enough time to enjoy some rad summit shots before the pinball alley descent off the backside of the peak. Pretty sure we saved a couple lives as we encouraged a coupe young bucks that starting their ascent as nasty weather rolled in was nit a wise idea. At the bottom we were treated to a National Geographic level display of mountain goat bad-assery, and one that actually fell while attempting a wicked V7 dyno.

The run out was a blur of rocks, roots, and good trail vibrations. We had some big dark clouds on our tails and we made it back to the car just as the first drops started to fall. Not to mention the fact that Erik is about as bad-ass and fast as trail runners come, so running with him is definitely an inspiring endeavor. Over the winter I complied a list of routes and objectives and the Wham was on that list. It seemed many local Durango runners talk about the numerous times they attempted the Wham only to be turned back by foul weather, I felt blessed and thankful to have made it on the first go. The route is beautiful, but it’s not a simple or easy approach.

Vestal Peak.  Wham Ridge takes the right side ridge to the summit and has a few exposed moves half-way up.

Vestal Peak. Wham Ridge takes the right side ridge of the main pyramid face to the summit and has a few exposed moves half-way up.

Impressive view of Vestal.

Impressive view of Vestal.

As seen from the north.

As seen from the north.

-Day three, the legs were tired and I had a mojo hangover from Wham. Erik, old Ashland resident Renneker, and I made a run from the house up Animas Mountain and down through Sailing Hawks where we did some fun bouldering on excellent sandstone, Strava here. Swam in the Animas River and got a little bike ride through town and Main Street

Looking north from the summit of Animas.

Looking north from the summit of Animas.

Some guy sending in Sailing Hawks boulders.  Erik and I pretty much crushed every piece of rock there into sandstone submission

Some guy sending in Sailing Hawks boulders. Erik and I pretty much crushed every piece of rock there into sandstone submission

Popular past-time to beat the heat, tubing with a six-pack through town, in the Gold Medal waters of the Animas River.

Popular past-time to beat the heat, tubing with a six-pack through town, in the Gold Medal waters of the Animas River.

-Day four, Renneker and I planned a point-to-point run in the mountains north of Durango, to be continued in the next post…

Durango was my first stop on my summer exodus from the heat of a Rogue Valley summer.  Vanna White and I made the drive east through Lakeview and Winemucca.  I passed through, other towns, I forgot their names, much the way I would forget the names of boring, lifeless, drab, and tiresome people I meet.  If Durango and the San Juans were a piece of clothing they’d be a lacy black G-String, and the hundreds of miles between Lakeview and Salt Lake City would be khakis and a white button down shirt.

Highlights of the drive included:

-Views of the Steens Mountains, definitely need to get there this fall and check the trails out.

-Jar #1 of ice cold fresh pressed watermelon juice.

-The craggy oasis of the Ruby Mountains leaping out of the otherwise parched plateaus, they are on my list for the future.

-Jar #2 of ice cold fresh pressed watermelon juice.

Salt Flats of Bonneville where I day dreamed of Vanna White breaking 200 mph.

-Jar #3 of ice cold fresh pressed watermelon juice.

-The mighty Wasatch mountains above Salt Lake City skyline

-Driving through Moab and past Arches National Park.

-Jar #4 of ice cold fresh pressed watermelon juice.

-Best witty country song lyric of the drive, “My eyes are the only thing I don’t want to take off of you tonight.”

-The final hours approaching the mountains of Southern Colorado, I was frothing to get out on them!

Vanna did very well, and I made the drive in a day and a half.  I arrived Sunday afternoon, welcomed to Durango by friend Erik who used to live in Ashland, the mountains were calling, it was time to go!







Week of 1/18 – 1/24

Thought much about this little red line on my runs this week.  Like doing just under 14 laps on Pete's spread out over close to 100 miles of trail.

Thought much about this little red line on my runs this week. Like doing just under 14 laps on Pete’s spread out over close to 100 miles of trail.

To see Strava files, if you do the Strava, find me as “Whyte Nynsha”.

To see more of the Running Logs select from “Running Logs” in the category toolbar to the right.

Saturday 1/18: 18.1 miles / 3:08:00 / Ele’s 4,124 ft.

Major bonk today!  The original goal for the run today was to get in something similar to last Saturday’s 20 miler, I knew the overall pace would likely be a little slower than last week’s, but 20 miles or so at a consistent aerobic pace was my mark to hit. I set out with the body feeling a bit ragged from yesterday’s harder tempo after the Pete’s climb, but I figured I would just try to settle into a comfortable aerobic pace and lock into that for the rest of the run. Slowly, the power department started to shut things down. I had brought a few bloks with me, but I knew that this type of bonk that was coming on would only be fixed by a double stack of pancakes and lots of maple syrup, and that in the past when I’ve been on the bonk train taking in a gel or blok only makes the low of the bonk hit even harder and lower. Also figured that my body has shown good metabolic efficiency on my runs lately so I knew things wouldn’t get too bad and that running while bonked at an easy pace today should hopefully only improve the fat-burning ability of my body, and the lower pace meant lower impact on the body. I managed to plug along, though at a very slow and easy pace, similar to my rejuvenation runs. I tried to figure out the why and how of the bonk, and what makes sense is lack of good caloric recovery after my more intense runs Thursday and Friday. Due to some unhappy gut issues I was not able to eat in the hour or hours right after my runs, the prime window for glycogen repletion for muscles. The energy levels felt a little off this morning before I left and that was already a sign. I did my best to make the most out of what I had, or had not, and figured a long slow run won’t kill me, and honestly have found they sometimes do more than one might think. Also, I know from experience that mentally it is good to know you can make it home and finish the long run in that sort of state, knowing that comes in handy if you find yourself on a big run in the wilderness bonking your face off which happened to me a few times this summer, and it just gives you that piece of mind to not go too crazy or panic, to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and enjoy the scenery until you get home. We’ll see how things feel tomorrow, the stomach felt better today so I was able to refuel right after the run, which will help. The forest was amazing today, so warm up high with plenty of blue sky. Was happy to be out in it and did my best to savor the leisurely pace. Runs like this are humbling, and educational on many fronts. I think as runners we focus so much on fueling the muscles, we forget that one of the biggest glucose users is the brain, and if the brain senses a shortage it does its best to try to stop the body to find food, rest, or walk. What is interesting is that hitting the wall and bonking actually starts with the brain being glucose deprived and then it not sending good mojo for the body to keep working. Amazing how powerful that little nugget between the ears is.

Sunday 1/19: 10.9 miles / 2:21:00 / Ele’s 4,770 ft. 

Today’s run focused on getting some vertical in. Warmed up the first 15 minutes or so at a very easy pace, the air was frigid along the park and I wanted to ease into today’s run gently. Made my way to the base of Pete’s. The first goal today was two laps on Pete’s, each under 19:30. The legs weren’t feeling super snappy, punchy, or pizzazzy today, so what I really wanted to focus on was keeping a consistent pace for each effort, not taking it into the red, and generally feeling like I was maintaining a workload effort that felt like a bread & butter pace. Running Pete’s is never easy, though today my efforts felt “comfortable”, and by that I mean I felt like I was in a exertion level where I was not worrying about blowing up, blowing chunks, or blowing my wad too soon. Just able to focus on good breathing, good fluid body movement, enjoying the sweat dripping off my brow, and I felt mentally very focused and not distracted (unlike yesterday where my mind was going crazy in Bonktown). The times from my Re-Pete’s today reflect that I did indeed achieve my goal of consistent, bread & butter, efforts, 19:18 the first round and 19:15 the second, so nice even to have a little faster on the second go. After Pete’s I added on the climb up BTI and back down for a little more vert. Overall, I noticed that my legs didn’t, and don’t now, feel totally lactic acid burned or flamed out. So it’s nice to know I’ve developed enough strength, efficiency, and aerobic capacity, for this type of vertical bread & butter run without totally shutting me down after. I also felt that today’s run I finished with something left in the tank, mentally and physically, which is something I should aim to do more of! Overall, a nice day, I’ve come to realize that generally I do and will feel like total crap the first 10 – 15 minutes of my runs, and to not worry about that, as today was a good example where I felt like crap the first mile, only to have a positive outlook, sensations, and overall good mojo from the run. This amazing weather doesn’t hurt either, so beautiful out in the forest, warm, sunny, oh so nice.

Monday 1/20: 11.9 miles / 2:28:06 / Ele’s 5,046 ft.

Today’s goal was to run a route very similar to yesterday’s route and perhaps tack on just a bit more to see if I could break 5,000 ft. of vertical, which I did in less than 12 miles today, Ashland trails are made with the real stuff. The meat of it being two laps on Pete’s with the usual goal of under 19:30, and generally trying to get more bread & butter vertical in. Took the warm-up very easy again today as I knew there would plenty of time to “do joyful work” later in the run. The legs felt more tired today than they did yesterday, which makes sense, still, I felt the workout I had planned would be manageable and attainable. The pacing on Pete’s was similar to yesterday, actually ended up going a little faster on the first lap, likely due to the fact that I was feeling a little tired and therefore probably ran a little harder worried that I might not make the 19:30 cut, though I ended up more than minute under that so it was more me over-thinking it. The first go was in 18:23 and the second lap was a 19:19. Second lap felt easier, and I took the pacing a little more even, at least it felt that way. Tried to go a little faster on the descents, still not fast by any means but it felt better in some ways to carry a little more speed down. After the re-Pete’s I dropped down the shorter backside, came back up, and then did the BTI bit before running home. Overall a solid run, managed to finish feeling like there was a little left in the tank, not as much as yesterday, but still, something left there. As usual, no water or calories on today’s run and energy levels felt consistent throughout. Legs feel more spent after the run today than they did after the run yesterday, though that makes sense since I had an easy long run Saturday before Sunday’s run.

Tuesday 1/21: 10.2 miles / 2:09:04  / Ele’s 4,363 ft.

Went out for today’s run with the goal of doing another set of re-Pete’s, with the goal again of consistent pacing, repeatable efforts, and not digging too deep into the red. Took the warm up very easy. The legs actually felt about the same today as they did on yesterday’s run, which is good, unfortunately I have a nagging little goblin pain in my upper right hip that was a bit angry and flared up today, I think it is actually the hip and leg strengthening exercises I did after yesterday’s run that aggravated it. The goes up Pete’s went fine, ran them in the “comfort” bread & butter zone, 19:20 the first go and just squeaked under 19:30 with a 19:29 the second go, which effort wise felt easier than the first time up. Did my best to open it up on the downhills off of Pete’s today, downhills are something I need to improve on, so I am starting to work on this more. Makes the descending more fun that’s for sure, especially with the trail as dry as it is. Not sure if I will try to continue the re-Pete’s streak tomorrow, it is a good goal and intention, but I don’t want to force it or overdo it, otherwise I’ll pay for it later and I am already pretty happy with 3 days of re-Pete’s in a row on top of the other climbing in the runs.

Wednesday 1/22: 10.7 miles / 2:04:25 / Ele’s 1,945 ft.

If I look at the numbers of the last handful of days, even though my training log weeks start on Saturdays and end on Fridays, I’ve got a total of 24,040 feet of vertical from last Thursday’s re-Pete’s session to yesterday’s re-Pete’s, a pretty decent number for me in six days, and I do think it is wise to take some easier runs to let the training settle in. Even if I wasn’t crunching the numbers I would know that my body needed something easy today. Today’s run was very mellow, and that was the plan from the get go. I could tell waking up that things were tired and beat. I am getting better with the zen of the slow, easy run. It takes an effort to shift focus and thinking, rhythm and expectations, for these types of runs since they are a real shift in gears, mentally and physically, from the usual more workout and ‘structured’, or goal oriented type runs. It does help to have such amazing, warm, and sunny weather. The route today was up the trails to top of Caterpillar and then back down much the same way. Focusing on trying to keep the body loose and easy, comfortable, yet not sloppy. Keeping that intention of good form and biomechanics can actually sometime be harder at slower speeds. The right hip still feeling tight, though a little better than yesterday, and it feels better than yesterday after the run. Hopefully another easy day or two should have it well on the way to being cleared up.

Thursday 1/23: 12.1 miles / 2:01:19 / Ele’s 2,318 ft.

Another amazing day of sun and warmth on the trails. A strong south wind even brought the warm air down to some of the lower elevations and cleared out some of the haze that was resting in the valley. Taking the easy run yesterday was a good idea, I felt a bit better in all regards on today’s run. The right hip was less sore, legs less tired, and the body felt a little more energetic. Which is all a good sign after an easy day of running. When the body responds well to an easy day it is a sign that recovery is taking place, and that the body is processing the previous workload and getting stronger as a result. One thing I discovered in cycling was that if I did not feel better, more rested, or in some way recovered after an easy day, then it was a sign that my body was overtrained and much too fatigued, that I had over-cooked it. That is one lesson I am taking into the running, to learn that timing of when to rest and when to push that little bit more. Am happy I was able to back off and let the recovery start. In cycling, when I did get too deep into the workload or stress from consecutive workouts it would take far too long to dig myself back out of the hole and finally recover, ultimately compromising the benefits of all the work I had done up to that point. So I think that I was wise not to keep pushing the re-Pete’s and instead take some easier days to recover. Took today’s run still very easy, exertion wise the effort today felt about the same as yesterday, though the overall pace was higher and the body felt less ragged overall, so again, signs that recovery is on the upswing. Took a long walk in the sun this afternoon and the hip felt much better than on my walk yesterday afternoon. Tomorrow will likely be another easier outing to let things get back on top before the weekend, got to remember to be patient.

Friday 1/24: 14.3 miles / 2:09:18 / Ele’s 3,243 ft.

Amazing weather for this Aloha Friday. Went out up Road 2060 with the goal of locking into a bread & butter pace if the body allowed. Started off easy and then slowly got into the pace on the climb up Rd 2060, energy systems felt better today and I felt I was close to an easier bread & butter pace so I locked into that and tried to keep it consistent for the rest of the climb up to the base of Horn Gap trail. By the end of the climbing the right hip was feeling a little sore and painful so I decided it would be best to take it easy on the descent, went at a comfortable pace and tried to keep the hip from getting too tight or wobbly. Would have liked to maintain the bread & butter pace for the whole run but am happy that each day things are feeling better. Would really like for this hip issue to be done, may need a couple really easy days or a day off to really get the healing done, just hard to do that with all this good weather! Lots of water trucks and forest service trucks flying up and down the road today, controlled burns going on up behind Ostrich Peak area.

Weekly Totals: 88.2 miles / 16:22:00 / Ele’s 25,809 ft.

Lessons from the week:

Overall I was able to follow up last week’s respectable totals with another solid week.  Took a lot of walks in the afternoons rather than spending time on the bike or bike trainer, the weather was so nice to be outside in an easy and mellow way this week after the morning runs, so the total time for the week was lower in that regard, but still solid hours on the runningSpent a good deal of time on Pete’s this week.  Always good for the overall leg strength and a good way to get the climbing to be stronger and more efficient, putting pennies in the bank one lap up Pete’s at a time.  Great weather, warm, sun, blue skies, made getting out a no brainer.  The right hip issue is still lingering and I am thinking that taking a day off might be necessary if it doesn’t show more sign of improvement soon.  Writing this up and looking back at the last few weeks, and thinking about how I’ve been feeling lately, and it feels like the mojo core reactor needs a little easy time to rest, rejuvenate and rebuild.  This is one of those times where the old me might have tried to soldier through a nagging injury and some fatigue, only to detonate a week later in meteoric fashion.  My goal this next week is to do it smarter, recover sooner than later and get all rested up and healed up so I can resume some more solid running.


I am a Bikram Yoga teacher and yoga student, an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast.  Behind my pursuits there is a passion for the rhythm of my body and breath, sometimes it’s a symphonic duet, other times a heavy metal jam session.  From these experiences I learn life lessons, which I share here in, ‘Sweaty Insights’, hopefully you will connect with them in some way.  I pose questions at the end of each post to inspire you to your own sweaty insights.

Improvement is a motivating factor for many athletes.  From weekend warriors looking for a personal best on their local running route to paid professionals aiming for the top step of the podium, improvement validates one’s time, energy, and commitment spent training, racing, focusing on goals, outcomes, and results.

Many sports have very objective ways of measuring this growth.  Time, speed, difficulty ratings, and race results are concrete indicators of how skills are developing.  They point to the general condition of the athlete’s body and the efficacy of their training regime.

One of my good friends, Tom, made a good point to me last summer, “It’s really simple man, you’re either getting faster or you’re getting slower, usually you know which one it is.”  

Tom’s words are an honest truth.  There is very little, especially among the world of living human beings, where things remain the same.  The body is aways changing.  For athletes, this means responding to the current training load, or lack thereof, and the other daily factors, recovery, lifestyle habits and environment which influence performance.

Often, improvement occurs gradually, the cumulative result of consistent commitment and dedication.  To quote another friend, Patrick, “like putting pennies in the bank, so later you can make a big withdraw.”

I’ve noticed physical improvement in my own running.  I’m pushing myself to new PR’s on my usual training routes, longer runs are feeling easier, steeper runs are coming with more ease and speed.  I’m running more miles and vertical on a regular basis.  All these objective markers of improvement I’ve noticed readily and easily because the methods by which I measure them are very concrete and simple.  All I need is a watch, one with GPS capabilities gives me more data and raw numbers to analyze every step run.

In the numbers it’s quite obvious for me to see that I am improving, numbers don’t lie.  However, as any truly passionate athlete will tell you, it’s not all about the numbers.  So what does that mean?  It means we also want to improve how we feel when we are moving and performing.  We want more of the positive sensations and less of the negative ones.  We want to cultivate the mojo to blossom to a beautiful orgasmic synergy of physiological and psychological endorphin fueled bliss.  

While on my run today I spent less time looking at my watch and more time listening to my breath, body and my thoughts.  As I made my way, running up the steep trail, I noticed my mind was clear and focused, honed in on each step, my thoughts were positive and affirming, my breathing felt full, deep, and nourishing, I was having a great time in the forest!  The interesting part of all this, no matter how high-tech my watch may be, there is no way it could have recorded this subjective data of my feelings, emotion, and mental outlook of my run.

The great part is, often by improving the physical we in turn improve the mental, and when we improve the mental the physical components also benefit.  It is important to be aware of this connection and not overlook the importance of this exchange.

It’s no wonder negative thoughts, self-doubt, and lack of motivation lead to poor performance.  And that poor performances often lead to loss of self-confidence and desire.  All in all an obvious downward spiral, especially for many of us hyper-critical, slightly ego driven athletes.  The opposite can also be true, good results = happy athlete, and confident, mentally healthy athletes reap good physical performance.

Bottom line, it is worthwhile to approach some portion of your workouts with a willingness to acknowledge and observe the mental conditioning you’re aiming for and that you’ve achieved and are flexing between your ears and in the heart and soul of your running.

Some questions to begin your own inquiry: (comments welcome!)

In the wise words of Tom, “You’re either getting faster or you’re getting slower.”  Be honest with yourself, which best describes your current trajectory and why might this be the case?

What objective ways do you measure improvement and what role do they play in your approach to training? (think time, speed, distance…)

What non-objective ways do you measure improvement and what role do they play in your approach to improvement? (think emotions, sensations, outlook, mojo…)

How do you, “put pennies in the bank” so you can later make a big withdraw, whether in competition or reaching a goal?

In the past year, what are the top three physical improvements you made in your running?  How did you measure these?

In the past year, what are the top three mental improvements you’ve made in your running?  How did you measure these?

Do you often overlook how improving mentally can boost and support your physical improvement?

How attached are you to the idea of improving, and do you fear the moments when you are not?

Is it all about the numbers for you? Or perhaps you are the opposite, if so, are you afraid of the numbers?

Week of 1/11 – 1/17

Serious inversion layers this week blanketed the Rogue Valley in an icy cold swath.  Though once above on the trails it was mid 50's, bluebird skies, sun on the face, and sweat on the brow.    Mt. McLoughlin pictured here framed by some madrones and firs on Hitt Road.

Serious inversion layers this week blanketed the Rogue Valley in an icy cold swath. Though once above on the trails it was mid 50’s, bluebird skies, sun on the face, and sweat on the brow. Mt. McLoughlin pictured here framed by some madrones and firs on Hitt Road.

To see Strava files, if you do the Strava, find me as “Whyte Nynsha”.

To see more of the Running Logs select from “Running Logs” in the category toolbar to the right.

Quotes/mantras/wisdom for the week:

“Abraham Lincoln once said that if he had six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first five hours sharpening the axe.”      -from Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman

Saturday 1/11: 20.0 miles / 3:06:06 / Ele’s 4,497 ft.

Woke up this a.m. feeling a need for a long run. My late start was rewarded with the only lengthy dry, sunny window of the day. Wasn’t expecting too much from my legs, the goal was just to get out and have a solid, positive, consistent long run with some elevation. The weather was windy, sunny, and warm enough. Made the climb up to Four Corners and just a bit beyond on Bull Gap Road. The climbing felt good, able to find a consistent pace. The combination of doing the bread & butter runs as well as the long, slow rejuvenation run last week gave me a good idea of what exertion level would be right for today. Given my mileage, vertical, and that I took in no calories or water for the run I am happy with my average pace. There is always the hindsight where I think, oh, I could have pushed harder here, or gone faster there, but it’s not a race and I achieved my goals for the run. Took the lower Bull Gap singletrack back down to four corners. Tried to be loose and comfortable on the decent and things felt good all the way down. I climbed up 2060 Rd. for just a short bit before heading home to get the legs used to that transition after a long decent and climb prior. Happy with the fact the energy levels stayed high enough throughout the run despite taking in no calories, body has become more and more efficient with the fueling. Also happy with my ability to stick to an even pace and make it through the run without any major lows or lulls. Saw Ryan and Willow out on the trail which is always a nice little boost for me when I see them and talk, even if briefly.

Sunday 1/12: 14.2 miles / 2:46:08 / Ele’s 4,844 ft. 

Cracked close to 5,000 ft. of vertical in about 14 miles today, and two of those miles were flat, the rest I think is fair to say were up or down, maybe both? Legs felt slow and tired for the first couple miles of the run after yesterday’s longer outing that had some decent vertical too. Took an easy warm up from home and then an easy climb up the first section of Bandersnatch. Once I got on Pete’s though the legs warmed up a bit, the mind loosened up a bit, and the breathing felt good. As usual, aimed for my working goal of sub 19:30 on each, 18:50 the first go and a 19:12 the second go. Happy enough with those times considering they were working efforts and not full gas, and that the legs were not fresh or snappy. Worked on longer stride length intervals on the second time up. Took it easy on the way down each time and didn’t do too much lollying around near the top or bottom between each go which I think helped keep the legs flowing, even if it hurt a little more at the start of each round. After the second time down I climbed up Jabberwoky, the first 1/8 mile burned like a mother after the re-Pete’s, found a rhythm and effort that worked and made my way up, took it comfortable on the trails down and then did a couple faster miles on the road around the park and the legs and energy felt surprisingly good considering, able to run 7:03 and 6:28 without too much laboring or grimacing and felt I could have done a few more at that pace. Wanted to finish today with at least a little something left in the tank and that was accomplished. Again, no calories and no water on today’s run, the lows and dips that I did have in energy and focus today came within the first hour, the rest of the run things felt even keel and fine, could have done another 1/2 hour or so before a bonk likely hit. Happy with another solid day of vert and volume for the weekend, including Friday’s run this has been a good three day block of runnings.

Monday 1/13: 13.8 miles / 1:54:15 / Ele’s 2,848 ft. & 50:00 on bike trainer

Took a little while for the legs and the body to warm up and loosen up this morning. Things were feeling a bit rough around the edges after the weekend of running. Once I got into an easy rhythm things started to feel better. The weekend block of running started with some intensity on Friday’s run, and then Saturday and Sunday I focused more on volume and vert, getting some good longer runs in with plenty of climbing. Overall I could feel some of the fatigue of that volume in my legs today. However, none of my runs on Saturday and Sunday had any really intense efforts as far as exertion. Climbing up today my legs were telling me that although they were tired, they did want to unwind and push things at some point. I ran up at an even pace and figured that if things still felt motivated by Catwalk I would try for an effort there. Things did feel good so I opened it up a bit and managed to set a new PR/KOM on the Catwalk segment, running a 14:12, beating my old PR from November which was 16:02. Just at the top of Catwalk I figured I would keep the legs rolling and see how long I could ride the wave. Ended up running at tempo to milepost 19 on 2060 Rd. which was a good workout right after climbing Catwalk at an effort, that part of 2060 is false flat to slight uphill so it was a good burn. Was figuring I would ease off there but decided that I would turn around and just keep rolling it, the road was now downhill and from there to four corners and down the Loop Road I let things go free and wide open down to the flattish are past Caterpillar. Overall I was surprised and happy with the effort, a solid climb from the bottom of Catwalk to the top, right into a couple of faster tempo miles which was good for the legs and the turnover, and then straight into one of the fastest downhills I’ve run in a while. Starting more or less with the catwalk climb around mile 6 my splits were: 9:53 (bulk of catwalk climb), 7:20 (finish of climb straight into false flat tempo), 5:51 (2060 Rd. tempo), 5:26, 5:06 (last two Loop Rd. downhill). A solid 5 miles of work in there. Overall for the run my avg. pace was lower than my bread and butter runs last week, not by much, but still, a good pace considering the beginning and end of the run were more mellow. Will be interesting to see how the legs feel tomorrow after the downhill pounding today.

Tuesday 1/14: 11.2 miles / 1:55:10 / Ele’s 2,115 ft. & 30:00 on bike trainer

I could feel the last few days of running in the legs and body today, and mentally I was ready for an easy day just to cruise the forest easy. The goal was a rejuvenation run similar to last week, the mantra on the climbs, “not strain, no pain” and the mantra on the descent, “no punishing, no pounding”. Took the climb up very easy to the top of Caterpillar, enjoying getting into the sun above the inversion layer, blue sky, bright sun on my face. Just as I was turning to descendI saw Omer, and we ran the rest of the descent together, which was really enjoyable. We had some good talk and it was nice to have the conversation on the descent. Probably took the descent faster than I would have alone for this run, but it was nice to talk and listen and let my body just do its things. Took another mile at the end through the park really easy, felt better at the end of the run than at the beginning, still, I might need another one or two of these easy runs this week to let the harder runs from the last few days settle in.

Wednesday 1/15: 10.1 miles / 1:52:55 / Ele’s 2,208 ft.

Had another easy run today since I woke up feeling like my body could use it. Am working on erring on the side of being kinder to my body rather than erring on the side of overdoing it. Took it slow and easy, no pain no strain, on the climb up. Really intense inversion layer today made it cold and frosty to start, but gloriously sunny and so so warm up high. Topped out on the Pete’s Peak via up the backside from Caterpillar and found myself wishing there was a sun-deck with a chaise lounge, espresso, and the rest of the day off to just soak it all in. Took the downhill very very gentle as well, no pounding or hammering. Made it back with the legs feeling better than when I left. Overall I think this easy run was much needed today, the legs felt slow and heavy, energy levels were low, and I needed that easy run. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday 1/16: 8.8 miles / 1:48:07 / Ele’s 3,674 ft.

Legs felt better this morning after taking the last couple days easier, my gut has been feeling a bit off lately, not enough to put me out, but enough to dampen a little the quality of how the body feels out running and the energy levels. My goal today was to get a couple laps in on Pete’s. Ran straight to the base through the cold freezing fog inversion layer, eager to climb up and get into the sunshine and warmer weather. The goal today, as usual, was to run each lap up under 19:30. My first go was 19:08, second go was 18:39. Not often that I run the second faster than the first, and the second go felt easier. On the second lap I did work on some longer stride intervals, I think these are good for recruiting the muscles in a different range of motion and to a different degree than the normal short and quick climbing stride, which translates to a greater range of strength and power for the stride on flatter runnings. Took the downhills easy and comfortable. Energy systems felt a little off today, some brief little spells of feeling a bit dizzy and out of sorts. Still, happy enough with two trips up Pete’s and the amazing warm sunshine up high thanks to the inversion. Great views of Mcloughlin and Mt. Ashland from the top of Pete’s. As an easy afternoon activity I opted for a walk in the afternoon to enjoy the sunshine rather then inside on the bike trainer.

Friday 1/17: 11.1 miles / 1:42:22 / Ele’s 2,063 ft. & 40:00 easy on bike

Wanted to run today’s lap up Pete’s with the goal of going a bit harder than either of my efforts yesterday since I only planned to do one up today. Warmed up and the legs felt more or less average after yesterday’s re-Pete’s. On the run up Pete’s I tried “attacking” some of the steeper sections with longer, more powerful strides until almost the point where my legs were too flamed out to run another step, then I would back it off to shorter strides and recover and wait for another section to go hard on. More glorious and warm sunshine at the top and all the way up. Ended up with an 18:00 on the nose for today’s effort, happy with that time. Took it super chill on the way down the trails via Caterpillar etc. and saw the Kem family doing a forest friday, a bunch of smiling faces! Did a progression workout of 3 miles right near the end of the run on the flat gravel road above the park, times for those three miles were: 6:27, 6:11, 5:49. The brain was kind of in a blah state so it took some pushing and prodding to get the legs turning over for this faster bit. The first mile felt the hardest, getting the legs rolling faster and working hard after the easy downhill off Pete’s. After the first mile my goal was two more miles, each progressively faster. The road above the park is great for this, not super long so you have to do u-turns at each end mid-mile, but still, a natural surface, some slight undulations, more exciting than the track and fairly consistent. The next two miles of the progression came a bit easier mentally and physically as I got more focused and locked in on my breath and movement. Was nice to get those faster miles in after having done Pete’s earlier in the run, I think that variation in type of terrain, while still going hard, whether hill or flat, ultimately makes my running stronger and more resilient. Overall, happy with the running today, I felt a bit tired and uninspired heading out the door to start the run and it was nice to push things hard and let the lactic acid burn some of those blues away.

Running Weekly Totals: 89.2 miles / 15:06:00 / Ele’s 22,249 ft.

Bike Stationary Trainer Total Time: 2:00:00

Total Time: 17:06:00

Lessons from the week:

Happy with another solid week of running, 22,249 ft. of vertical and just shy of 90 miles is a quality set of numbers for me.  A new PR/KOM on catwalk by a solid chunk of time over my last PR, my average times up Pete’s are dropping, and I came close to breaking a 5:00 mile on some downhill work after a good tempo effort up Catwalk and out Rd 2060.  Looking back on the week I started this block with two days of longer runs, both of which I felt consistent and solid on, followed my Monday’s run that involved some high intensity efforts and some fast downhill turnover.  Am starting to really find the right way to do my recovery/rejuvenation runs and I finished the week with some quality workouts on Pete’s and a little 3 mile tempo that let me know I haven’t forgotten completely how to run on flatter terrain.  Overall I felt like the week’s workload was manageable for my body, had a couple low spots here and there energy and/or motivation wise, though those were in the morning before the run and were quickly dissolved once I got into the day’s run.  Had some gut issue during the week that kind of threw things out of whack a bit, but feeling a bit better now.  The weather was great with the inversion and I am feeling like the body is developing a solid base from all the aerobic running, and still getting plenty of return from the couple of more intense efforts that come up during the week.  The longer runs on the weekend have been good, more of those to come hopefully.

Spent a little less time on the bike trainer this week as I opted to take a few walks in the afternoons as a mellow afternoon activity rather than sit inside and spin.  I think in general the walks are a bit more restful than the spin sessions.  Keeping on top with the Bikram yoga 3-4 times a week, and just bought a foam roller as recommended by Shaggy which should help roll some kinks out.

Here is an excerpt from and article via irunfar.com, written by Joe Uhan, that goes along with my post last week regarding training intensities and the importance of using high intensity workouts sparingly mixed with lower intensity aerobic running:

Intensity Matters: Fuel Selection and Inflammatory Stress

The answer to the undead pain puzzle lies in intensity. Most runners and sports-med professionals agree that faster running is more stressful, yet most would cite that mechanical stress–higher speeds equal higher forces–as the primary reason.

But what about chemical stress?

With any activity, we have two primary fuel sources: fat and sugar. At most efforts, our bodies burn a mixture, but ultimately prefer to burn fat. We have lots of it, and we’re wired to ‘go slow all day’ with everything we do. However, as a part of our survival, we’re also equipped with the ability to go really hard for short periods of time. At any given time, we have about one to three hours of fuel to go at high intensity, and that fuel is sugar.

While sugar burning is a fast-acting, convenient, high-octane fuel, chronic use has its drawbacks. When the body shifts away from fat to sugar burning, the body responds by secreting inflammatory chemicals. The body, perceiving this high-intensity activity, releases these chemicals to preemptively repair any possible damage that may occur from such intense efforts.

A primary chemical consequence of prolonged sugar-burning exercise is increased cortisol production. Cortisol is a stress hormone secreted in higher volumes with sugar-burning exercise; its primary role is to mobilize more sugar into the system, as well as other energy forms. In small doses, cortisol has positive effects. But with prolonged and excessive secretion, cortisol can, among other things, decrease tissue healing and dampen the immune system. There are other inflammatory byproducts from the sugar-burning process, but cortisol is the primary culprit.

So when a healing runner exercises at a high-enough intensity to burn predominantly sugar, the result is more than mechanical stress: they inadvertently flood their system with inflammatory, tissue-weakening chemicals. These chemicals attack the healing tissue (and often the sensitized nerve tissues around the injury). The result is ongoing pain and poor tissue healing. There’s the rub.

Aerobic and Anaerobic: A Tight Balancing Act

Most runners recognize that sugar-burning–high-intensity running (or any other physical activity)–must be done sparingly. But how, precisely, do we know when we’re fat versus sugar burning?

Aerobic fitness is defined by the maximum intensity and duration of exercise we can partake while using fat as a dominant fuel source. Fat burning requires a lot of oxygen and a lot of cellular mitochondria to process, but with more practice (training), the body can burn fat faster, and longer. But when the demands of activity out-strip what fat can provide, the body shifts to more and more sugar. But it is not an either-or, all-or-nothing scenario. Rather, it is a dynamic ratio of fat and sugar at various intensities.

However, for each of us, at any given fitness level, there is an intensity level at which our body shifts completely to sugar burning. This is referred to as the anaerobic threshold (AT). Beyond this point, we are burning pure sugar and the above-mentioned chemical stressors are most acute. Healthy runners are usually able to strike a balance of easy, fat-burning running with more intense exercise. They quickly learn what intensities are sustainable and stay within those limits.

But for injured runners, that system can be completely disrupted:

  • The fit, healthy runner might burn mostly fat at eight-minute pace.
  • The injured runner, due to lost fitness, has diminished fat-burning ability: eight-minute pace may now be entirely sugar-burning.
  • The fit, healthy runner, pre-injury, had consistent running mechanics.
  • The injured runner has learned a faster, more efficient stride, but the learning process drives her to run too fast–7:30 pace–beyond even her previous fat burning, and far beyond her current fitness.
  • Running fast (due to better mechanics, or impatience, and/or excitement to run again) burns sugar, creates chronic, systemic inflammation, and perpetuates pain and slows recovery.

It becomes a painful cycle that must somehow end.

Intensity Guidelines for Metabolic Stress Management

Phil Maffetone, DC, was one of the first sports medicine professionals to recognize the role of training intensity on injury incidence and recovery–and quantify it. Besides using it as a guide for optimal training, he devised and uses his ’180 Formula’ to ensure athletes maximize fat burning and minimize sugar-burning and its accompanying stresses.

The 180 formula, simply put, is the optimal heart rate-based exercise intensity at which fat is still the dominant fuel source. The formula was derived from the thousands of respiratory metabolic tests he conducted with athletes over the past 30-plus years. The general rule: 180 minus your current age. This is an estimate based on the average of those laboratory results. And based on those thousands of results–and the various athletes, injured and healthy, he tested–he developed several caveats, including:

  • If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medications, subtract an additional 10.
  • If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
  • If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same.
  • If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.


Raw Buckwheat Honey

The first post of a new category, ‘Strange But Good’.  I’ll do my best to feature some healthy ingredients off the beaten path.  If you want any ideas on how to use them, where to get them, or whatever else may pique your interest, leave a comment below.  As more of these get posted you’ll be able to find an archive to the right on the “Categories” toolbar.

appearance: Dark, brown, and thick, much more so than typical honey.  If clover honey could be called the “light beer” of honeys, then raw buckwheat honey would be the “extra dark chocolate coffee guinness stout” of honeys.

smell: Earthy, sweet.

taste: This is the “organ meat” of honeys.  For most tasters, they either like it or they don’t, there is not much middle ground with this stuff.

Nutritional Info from the web:

is a dark-colored honey that is sweet and delicious, with a distinctive spicy-malt flavor and an aftertaste that is reminiscent of molasses. With a range of vitamins and minerals, as well as polyphenols antioxidants, honey made from buckwheat flowers has many health benefits, too. In fact, this type of honey is now recommended for children under six years of age as a healthier alternative to cough syrup.

One of the main health benefits of buckwheat honey is related to the honey’s dark color. It has been established that dark honeys are generally richer in antioxidants than lighter colored honeys. This is because the antioxidants that are present in honey are one of the chemicals which give it color. Honey made from buckwheat flowers contains a type of antioxidant called polyphenol, which gives the honey its distinctive dark copper color.
 Darker honeys such as buckwheat also tend to contain more vitamins and minerals in addition to antioxidants. Buckwheat honey is a minor source of eighteen amino acids. This type of honeyalso has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can hasten wound healing and may even reduce scarring.